Rick Sweeney
6 min readFeb 19, 2021




MARK 5: 21–43 JULY 1, 2018


A. After nine long months of waiting a man calls the OBGYN. “You have to help. I think the baby is coming. The labor pains are two minutes apart.” The doctor asks, “Is this her first child?” “No, this is the father, dummy.” We know what it’s like to wait for something and then we get anxious when we feel like time is running out.

B. That’s what Jairus was feeling. He was an important man in town. He was one of the leaders of the synagogue. That made him important, not just in religious terms, but in every aspect of life. He had gone to seek out Jesus who had a reputation for being able to heal people. Who knows if it was faith or desperation that led him there? Maybe there are times when there isn’t any difference between faith and desperation. He humbled himself before Jesus and begged him to come and heal his 12 year daughter who is near death. And Jesus says yes.

C. On the way to the house of Jairus, a woman who had a hemorrhage for 12 years touches the rode of Jesus out of desperation. Jesus senses this touch and asks who touched him. The woman says it was me. She goes into an explanation of her ailment. And Jesus offers her not just health, but wholeness. He calls her daughter. To Jesus she was as much a precious daughter to him as the little girl was to Jairus. All this time Jairus is waiting; anxious; desperate. “Come on, Jesus. My daughter is dying!”

D. What a great story teller is Mark? I don’t know where you see yourself in this story. I relate most to the dad who will do anything to make his precious child well again. Frankly, I would be annoyed by this delay. “Come and touch MY daughter. Come and heal MY daughter.” But Jesus doesn’t care about his position or status. Jesus is an equal opportunity toucher. He shows no favorites. The two people healed have several things in common. They are both female. One has been sick for 12 years. The other has been alive for 12 years. And both are healed by touch.


A. We have come to understand the importance of touch when it comes to the development and well-being of children. When the monster Cheushceu was ruling Romania, he established warehouses for children taken away from their parents. The workers there were not allowed to hug or hold or even touch the children. These kids grew up with developmental problems, illness, intellectual deficits and emotional emptiness. May it never be the case that this kind of monstrous treatment be reported as part of the actions of Americans.

B. Another thing that these intertwined stories have in common is faith. Jesus tells the woman, “It’s your faith that has made you well; not some magic in my clothes.” He makes the healing personal. She took a chance in touching Jesus. You see her affliction made her ritually unclean. She was not supposed to touch or even come near anyone else. But she had dealt with that for 12 years; long years of isolation and loneliness.

C. Jairus has also shown faith in seeking out Jesus. And his faith gets tested in the interruption. Can he keep faith in the midst of delay? Can he demonstrate patience in his belief? It’s easy enough to have faith when the sun is shining and it’s pay day. But what happens to faith when the roof leaks and the rent is due? How do we deal with unanswered prayers? There is an old Garth Brooks song with that title.

D. Jesus was used to being interrupted. He was interrupted during prayer. He was interrupted by a leper during a sermon. He was interrupted by a paralytic during worship. He was interrupted by a beggar on his journey. So Jairus might have seen this woman with a hemorrhage as an interruption. But the sensitivity of Jesus saw it as his work. Henri Nouwen wrote in his diary, “For years I used to complain about all of the interruptions in my work. Then I realized that those interruptions WERE my work.”

E. Part of the lesson here is for us to develop Christ-like sensitivity to the needs around us. As faith matures, it becomes patient. In the church, you are rolling along. Then the pastor leaves and you wonder what will happen to us now. And you have to wait for a new pastor to come. How long will we have to wait? This interruption time is a great time to develop a deeper faith that is patient during delays. We should see Christ in us, whether as individuals or as a church as a journey rather than a destination.


A. This is a lesson about the development of faith. The pattern is the same for the sick woman and the grieving father. It starts with desperation, then hope, fear, action and finally shalom which means wholeness.

B. When Jesus gets to the house, it seems like it is too late. Jairus might have thought that he had just experienced an unanswered prayer. The paid mourners are there acting like they are heartbroken. Jesus tells them to hit the road and then he speaks the most precious words in the New Testament. Mark gives it to us in the Aramaic. He says, “Talitha Kumi. Little girl, get up.” And the child gets up and walks over to mom and dad. I can’t imagine the joy that they felt. Their hearts were surely bursting with happiness and relief.

C. When in our lives will we ever hear those words of shalom? Maybe it will be when the Lord has guided a new pastor to you. You may hear, “little church, arise.” Or maybe when that problem that has been gnawing at you for years is finally resolved almost miracle like: little dream arise. Or maybe at the moment of your death you will hear those words; little child arise. Maybe it started with desperation. You had nowhere else to turn. So you sought Jesus in strange mixture of fear and hope and you end up with shalom.


A. A man went into the confessional and said, “Father, I am 82 years old and I’m going to be a father.” The priest said, “Well that’s not a sin.” The man said, “No matter. I’m not even Catholic. I’m Jewish.” Then why are you telling me?” I’m telling everyone!”

B. There is in Mark what scholars call the messianic secret motif. After many of his miracles, Jesus tells people not to tell anybody. We are not sure why he says this. Maybe it was because he knew that the news of his being the messiah would be incomprehensible until his death and resurrection. Or maybe it was because Jesus knew human nature enough to know that a secret is something you tell everybody one person at a time. The “secret” was sure to spread even more than if it had been shouted from the roof tops. A wise man once said, “There are two secrets to a happy life. One is to not tell everyone one your secrets.

C. But let’s jump back into the story. The little girl has come back to life. Her parents are still trying to process a joy that is beyond measure at this fantastic miracle. And Jesus has two instructions for them. He tells them to get her something to eat. He cares about this girl as a precious person and not just a prop in his message. And then tells them not to tell anybody what had happened. Food, right and……….what? How can we keep something like this a secret? If Jesus made your life worth living and turned your grief into joy, would you want to keep it a secret? If you were Jairus, would you be able to keep this secret?



Rick Sweeney

The Reverend Dr. Richard Sweeney, Rick, is a retired Presbyterian pastor and author. Rick lives with his wife, Prudy, in Greensburg, PA.